The Prostitution of the Hawaiian Islands

Lovely Hula Hands: Corporate Tourism and the Prostitution of Hawaiian Culture written by Haunani Kay Trask was written in 1993. Trask wrote this paper to inform Americans about what she thinks of tourism, a “colonial imposition” towards the Hawaiian culture. Trask incorporates ethos, pathos and logos throughout her essay to show how tourism effects these three points in the Hawaiian culture: The homeland, the language and dance of the culture and the familial relationships. In the essay Lovely Hula Hands, Trask shares her emotions and thoughts with the reader about the rape and prostitution of her native land. She explains that different Hawaiian traditions weren’t used for entertainment purposes as they are used today. Trask mentions that many spots that were popular with the locals once, are now resorts that only allow resort residents to enter and use. Trask believes that Hawaii was prostituted by the western culture and sure enough over time the sacredness of the Hawaiian traditions and beliefs, “evaporated”. Trask was born on October 3, 1949 in the San Francisco Bay area. Kenneth Conklin, an interviewer said, “Therefore she is an American citizen, contrary to her protests that “I am NOT an American. I will DIE before I am an American. She is also an immigrant to Hawai’i, not an

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indigenous native person.” (Conklin 2002). Conklin mentioned that Trask is not a native person to Hawaii, being born in California yet she fights for the Hawaiian culture like she has always been here from the very start. Trask graduated from Kamehameha High School in 1967. Trask went to the University of Wisconsin. In 1972, she got her bachelor’s degree. In 1975, she received her master’s degree and in 1981, she got her Ph.D, all her degrees were in political science. Trask is currently the former chairperson, as well as a professor at the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawaii at Manoa campus. With all of Trask’s education she has a very creditable ethos and knowledge of the Hawaiian culture.
Trask uses pathos in her essay to convey to the reader about how she feels about her native land. Early in Trask essay she says that Hawaii was prostituted by the Western culture. Prostitution as defined by Trask is “the entire institution which defines a woman (and by extension the “female”) as an object of degraded and victimized sexual value for use and exchange through the medium of money” (Trask 1993). Trask uses the word prostitution as a way to show how she feels about the western culture using Hawaii as a way of “payment”. Trask also uses the word prostitution in a large sense of a metaphor to prove the utter degradation of the Hawaiian culture. The way that Trask uses the words prostitution and rape was a very harsh way to explain the takeover of Hawaii, but it is true. In the essay Trask also mentions that in an article of the “royal Lahaina Luau”, tourist view the men of Hawaii, as a “fantasy animal”. The typical Polynesian to tourist is one who is barley clothed, not smiling, muscular and threatening. Also in the article is the costumes that “ensnare” tourist who buy them for $39.95, Trask points out that selling the items like that really don’t express two thousand years of culture. Trask states that genealogy is important in the Hawaiian way of life as “interrelatedness of the Hawaiian 3

world, and the inseparability of its constituent parts” intertwine the universe (Trask 1993). In the Hawaiian belief, Papa and Wakea, earth-mother and earth-father created the Hawaiian Islands. Their offspring the taro plant and from the taro the Hawaiian culture was born. Later in the essay, Trask talks about the importance of each individual family member. “In Hawaii, as in all of Polynesia, younger siblings must serve and honor elder siblings who, in turn must feed and care for their younger siblings” (Trask 1993). Trask also says that the western culture brought the idea of adopting children not of Hawaiian legacy which changed the genealogy of Hawaiian familiies. Later in the Conklin’s interview he gives us Trask’s definition of “racism” which is where one ethnic or racial group dominates another to gain the culture and ethical values. For example, how the United States of America “dominated” Hawaii. Trask is able to use logos to prove how tourism has affected the Hawaiian culture. Trask refers to Hawaii as a “She” who “Rubs off” on the visitor with her magical presence. The beauty of Hawaii is used as an escape from “Rawness and violence” for most
Americans though, Trask mentions that the land has a “Western sexual sickness” (Trask 1993). “Of course, all this hype is necessary to hide the truth about tourism, the awful exploitative truth that the industry is the major cause of environmental degradation, low wages, land dispossession, and the highest cost of living in the United States” (Trask 1993). Trask says that the areas of Hawaii which were “sacred” to the Hawaiian’s have now been turned into top of the line hotels. The beaches that were once full of fishermen and their nets are used for recreational activities like surfing getting a tan and jet skiing. On most of the beaches owned by resorts, the beaches are reserved for hotel residences only. In the essay, Trask gives the readers logos as to how tourism is changing the land. For example, thirty years ago the ratio of Hawaiians outnumbered the tourist 2:1. Today, 4

tourist outnumber residents by 30:1. Another example is “Nearly one-fifth of Hawaii’s “Tourist flock to my Native land for escape, but they are escaping into a state of mind while participating in the destruction of a host people in a Native place”. As the tourist industry booms, hotels, golf courses and businesses change the view of the Hawaiian culture to one known for entertainment purposes. The purpose for the entertainment is the profit not the joyful celebration on the Hawaiian culture. In the essay Lovely Hula Hands, Trask wrote to inform the readers that tourism, but mainly the western culture has changed the ways of the Hawaiian way of life. The culture that was once survived by living by the way of the land was now changed in to the survival of tourism and the entertainment business of the Hawaiian culture. Trask ends the essay by reemphasizing her logos and pathos view on the prostitution of the Hawaiian culture and the destruction of the land. The colonization has changed the Hawaiian culture from being sacred to being used as enjoyment. Tourism may have given job opportunities to the young people, but they are very limited to their jobs. Trask shows the reader much emotion and shares facts with the reader allowing them to feel connected with her as they read. Trask’s main point was that tourism should stop because it is ruining the way of the land and the sacredness of the Hawaiian Culture. “After all, a prostitute is only as good as her income-producing talents. These talents, in Hawaiian terms, are the hula;
the generosity, or aloha, of our people; the u’i or youthful beauty of our women and men; and the continuing allure of our lands and waters, that is, of our place, Hawai’i” (Trask 1993) “We don’t want or need any more tourist, and we certainly don’t like them. If you want to help our cause, pass this message on to your friends” (Trask 1993).

Works Cited
Conklin, Ken. “Professor Haunani-Kay Trask.” N.p., 2002. Web. 10 Mar. 2014.

Trask, Haunani-Kay. “Lovely Hula Hands.” From a Native Daughter: Colonialism and
Sovereignty in Hawaii. Monroe, ME.: Common Courage, 1993. Print.

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